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2013 Lexus RX 350 falls short of sport (pictures)

Although sport suspension tuning gives the RX 350 F Sport better handling, the ride quality loses its luxury feel and the vehicle struggles for a purpose.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 17 Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Lexus' RX model has been a stalwart in the lineup, a five-seater SUV offering luxury amenities. For 2013, the vehicle experiences little change from previous model years, with no change in engine or basic features.
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2 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
This model gets the addition of F Sport trim, Lexus' attempt at sports car credibility. However, on the RX this trim does little for performance while removing the car's luxury ride quality.
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3 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
The engine, buried in this sea of plastic, remains the same from the previous model year, and gets no upgrade for the F Sport trim. The engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 270 horsepower.
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4 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
F Sport gives the RX 350 more rigid suspension tuning, which results in better handling but also makes the ride rougher. An all-wheel-drive system includes a differential lock mechanism, useful for particularly slippery surfaces.
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5 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
The RX 350 boasts 40 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, and more than twice that area with the seats down.
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6 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
Power-adjustable leather seats with memory settings give the RX 350 its luxury character.
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7 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
The rear seat is not much more than a bench, although a rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available for the RX 350.
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8 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
Where previous RX models had a wheel you could turn with a single finger, this one required a little more effort -- maybe two or three fingers.
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9 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
Lexus keeps the instrument cluster simple, with the inclusion of useful trip data on the center LCD.
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10 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
As an odd choice for the F Sport trim, Lexus throws in an eight-speed automatic transmission, giving the RX 350 two more gears than come with other trims. Sporting performance benefits little from the different transmission.
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11 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
The cabin electronics system uses this home-screen showing all the menu options. The design is very nice, although getting the right button with the cursor control system can be difficult.
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12 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
The maps, which show only in this flat view, include useful graphics for upcoming turns when under route guidance.
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13 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
Lexus gives you the option of splitting the screen, showing the map on one side and audio information on the other.
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Sirius Travel Link brings in useful external data, such as weather and fuel prices.
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HD radio in the RX 350 offers better audio quality and access to a station's multicasts.
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The Bluetooth audio streaming screen shows full artist and song information.
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With either an iOS device or USB drive, the stereo shows this music library interface.

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